Archive for January, 2012

Former Fulton and Cobb school chief to state official who uncovered CRCT cheating: “You’ll pay dearly for it.”

Wow. Listen to this damning Channel 2 Action News tape of former Fulton and Cobb school chief James Wilson berating Kathleen Mathers, who, while director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, led the state probe into irregular CRCT results.

In his current role as an education consultant, Wilson was interrogating Mathers on behalf of Dougherty County Schools, which was seeking to defend itself against cheating allegations by discrediting the state audit of CRCT answer sheets.

Mathers’ agency found the highest rates of improbable wrong to right erasures in Dougherty and Atlanta schools.

An odd things about the interview: Wilson is clearly out of his political depth in threatening Mathers, who had the full support of Gov. Sonny Perdue in her efforts.

Continue reading Former Fulton and Cobb school chief to state official who uncovered CRCT cheating: “You’ll pay dearly for it.” »

Education finance expert: “State is systematically starving our schools.”

Joseph Martin digs deep into the budget minutiae of education spending and is considered a national expert on school financing.

In fact, the Republican-led education finance committee created by Gov. Nathan Deal to rewrite Georgia’s school funding formula has called upon Martin to share his expertise. Martin was asked to advise the committee on how best to fund schools even though he is a Democrat who ran against Republican John Barge for the state school superintendent’s post. (Barge won.)

Martin just released his assessment of this year’s k-12 budget and he’s not happy. Nor does Martin think the public will be if it looks beyond Gov. Deal’s reassurances that he is protecting education this year.

From Martin:

The recommended state budget for k-12 education in FY 2013 was released with the announcement that it “includes no reductions to QBE, Equalization Grants, State Schools, or other enrollment driven programs.” This statement would be true if the word “further” was …

Continue reading Education finance expert: “State is systematically starving our schools.” »

Lessons learned from slavery math questions in Gwinnett

Christopher Emdin teaches at Columbia University and writes the “Emdin Five Series” for the Huffington Post where this essay on the slavery debate in Gwinnett originally appeared.

With his permission:

By Christopher Emdin

The “slavery math problems” assigned to 8-year-olds in Norcross has left the entire country in disbelief. I am perturbed by the fact that these questions were posed by a school system that prides itself on valuing “the important role education plays in building a thriving, global community” and having “the finest teachers in the profession.”

The homework assignment was part of a longer narrative that led to specific homework questions like, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” and “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

Gwinnett spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the questions were an attempt by the teacher to “incorporate social studies lessons into the math …

Continue reading Lessons learned from slavery math questions in Gwinnett »

Coming out in the classroom: How much of their lives should teachers share?

A local teacher sent me a link to a fascinating Huffington Post essay by a California teacher about how she told her middle and high school classes that she was a lesbian and the fallout from administrators, even in the San Francisco area.

The teacher who shared the link noted:

I sincerely hope that Georgia principals would not forbid such an important, relevant discussion in our schools, especially considering how many suicides have been associated with homosexuality and bullying lately. That being said, it does bring up an important ethical question for teachers. When it comes to lifestyle — religion, political affiliation, sexuality — how much should a teacher reveal? Is it unethical to avoid discussion on these matters?

It comes back to a fundamental debate in education. If schools are businesses, who are the customers? Parents (who may not want their children exposed to differing views and opinions), or the society as a whole who demands at least the opportunity to debate …

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Georgia earns a 7th place ranking. Nice to see us up there with New York and Massachusetts for a change

The “Quality Counts” report issued each year by Education Week is considered a fair and comprehensive assessment of state efforts in education, so we have to applaud Georgia’s 7th place ranking.

Georgia earned a grade of B- or 79.7.

It is a nice change to view a color-coded map of the United States and see Georgia sharing a hue with Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey — three states known for their commitment to and their investment in education.

Georgia earns its highest marks for its standards — which I have to note were put in place under Kathy Cox, who often takes the rap for the math program. Georgia gets an A- for both its standards and school accountability. Under a category called “Transitions and Alignment,” it earns a bona fide A for early childhood education and economy and workforce.

However, Georgia gets an F in its most public of duties — status of k-12 achievement. The state also gets a D- for its spending.

The disparity in our grades raises questions: We …

Continue reading Georgia earns a 7th place ranking. Nice to see us up there with New York and Massachusetts for a change »

State awards $19.4 million in innovation grants from its Race to the Top trove

From the governor’s office:

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced 11 winners of Innovation Fund grants, a $19.4 million competitive grant program created through Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. Through the Innovation Fund, the state awards grants to partnerships between local education authorities or charter schools, institutions of higher education, businesses and nonprofit organizations that develop or implement innovative and high-impact programs aimed at producing positive outcomes for students.

“The Race to the Top Innovation Fund provides a unique opportunity for communities to collaborate and leverage their expertise to develop innovative solutions in education,” said Deal. “We set the bar high in the first round, and the applicants selected for round two awards rose to the challenge. These projects provide big scale potential for developing our greatest resource and ultimately, ensuring Georgia’s competitiveness.”

The 11 selected grant recipients are:

·Murray County STEM …

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Gwinnett still investigating math/slavery lesson. No decision yet on teacher’s fate.

UPDATE Thursday at 9:47 a.m.: Please note that the principal of Beaver Ridge Elementary has changed his letter to parents that is posted on the school website. The principal initially wrote in his note that the NAACP held a protest outside the school, but changed the note to eliminate mention of the organization. The NAACP was not involved in the protest at the school, although Georgia NAACP leaders have met with Gwinnett Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks to ask that teachers involved with the lesson be terminated.

Back to original post:

A poster last night said the Beaver Ridge Elementary School teacher who created the slavery-focused math questions for third graders had been fired by Gwinnett schools, but I checked this morning with the system and received this message:

The teacher has not been fired. Our Human Resources investigation is still
going on.

Sloan Roach
Executive Director of Communication and Media Relations
Gwinnett County Public Schools

The teacher created two …

Continue reading Gwinnett still investigating math/slavery lesson. No decision yet on teacher’s fate. »

Deal replaces Perdue’s “Go Fish” with “Go Build.” But what is he building in education?

Gov. Deal had a lot to say about education Tuesday night in his state of the state address to the Legislature.. (Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

Gov. Deal had a lot to say about education Tuesday night in his state of the state address to the Legislature. (Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal devoted a great deal of his state of the state speech tonight to education.

Here is an excerpt:

One year ago, HOPE – arguably the nation’s most generous merit-based, higher education scholarship and grant program – was on an unsustainable course and faced a complete depletion of reserves as early as FY 2013. This evening, we can claim a piece of legislation that preserves HOPE for future generations!

And for every student who earns HOPE, my budget for next year maintains the same award amount received this year.

Also, we will again appropriate $20 million for the needs-based one percent student loan program which eases the burden of affording a college education. This year, more than half of these newly-appropriated funds went to students who had no assistance from their families.

Together, we’ve done something …

Continue reading Deal replaces Perdue’s “Go Fish” with “Go Build.” But what is he building in education? »

Regents approve merging eight campuses into four. Now comes the hard part.

As expected, the Board of Regents approved consolidation of eight of the state’s 35 public colleges and universities, a decision bound to rankle as thorny decisions are made about staffing, naming and funding the new entities.

As the AJC reports:  Some administrators and other staff members will lose their jobs and the system plans to funnel any savings into academics and expand degree offerings to help students, said Steve Wrigley, executive vice chancellor.

The  consolidations are: Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University (Dahlonega); Middle Georgia College (Cochran) and Macon State College; Waycross College and South Georgia College (Douglas); and Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.

Here is the official release with the statement of Chancellor Hank Huckaby:

“The Board’s approval now paves the way for us to proceed,” said Huckaby. “We will focus on how these consolidations enable us to better serve our …

Continue reading Regents approve merging eight campuses into four. Now comes the hard part. »

Feds release one-year report card on Race to the Top: Georgia making progress

The feds released a one-year progress report today on the 12 Race to the Top grant recipients, expressing concerns with how far Florida, New York and Hawaii were from meeting their goals.

The 18-page report on Georgia is nuanced, but essentially says the state is on target but faces a few challenges in fulfilling all the goals in its $400 million federal grant.

Here are highlights from the U.S. Department of Education report on Georgia: (For those who don’t know, LEA is Local Education Agency or, in Georgia’s case, the school districts that signed onto the Race to the Top grant. )

Although Georgia enjoyed some success in Year 1, the State faced challenges related to maintaining the original proposed schedule, transitions in State and LEA leadership, and hiring qualified staff. The timeline proposed in the State’s Phase 2 application had not been updated from the proposed Phase 1 application. This resulted in significant timeline delays and required numerous adjustments to the …

Continue reading Feds release one-year report card on Race to the Top: Georgia making progress »